I’ve been writing about making pants for months now – and have managed to overthink it to the point where I became paralyzed, then got over-complicated, then tried to simplify – and finally! Have arrived at a finished product.
Though I have made pants once before – it wasn’t my best project in terms of fit and I didn’t have the skills at the time to analyze what had gone wrong. As far as I was concerned, crotches and closures were an insurmountable problem – and I’ve stuck to skirts, tops and dresses since then.
A couple of things have motivated me to move on this lately, however. One is my MeMadeMay pledge to sew to fill in wardrobe gaps. If I ever had a gap, it is pants! The other is an episode that aired on the Love to Sew podcast (my favourite and out of Vancouver BC!) last week on upping one’s sewing game – which I found really motivating. Basically the idea is that wherever you are at right now, do the next more complicated thing – new types of garments or finishes, trickier fabrics, etc. I have a few areas that I would like to push myself – but pants was the one I was geared up for.
For my first project I chose the Emerson crop pants and some medium-weight cotton twill I bought in Vancouver a few months ago. I decided this would be my “muslin” pair. The fabric was inexpensive enough at $7 a metre that if they didn’t work – no harm, and if they did then I would have my first pair of transition-season pants. I also decided to interline the top of the pocket with some left-over double gauze.
I am pleased to say that they turned out swimmingly with just a few adjustments that I made off the top – and a few small sewing mishaps (one of which lead to me having to redo a whole front leg-piece).
The reason I chose these pants is because they crop at mid-calf, and they have an elastic back-waist which means no closures while still maintaining a flat front. I have made a couple of skirts with this type of waistband and I really love that approach. The hardest part is pulling the elastic through the casing, but it’s worth it for not having to baste on a zipper – plus they have a greater fit range. Turns out the pattern was also incredibly easy to follow – so kudos to True Bias for their clear writing and diagrams.
Because I am just 5’3, I took a couple of inches off the bottom hem of the pattern right away. This is a standard for me in all dress and skirt making these days. In tops, on the other hand – I often add an inch. It’s that longer-torso-to-leg ratio-thing I’ve got going on. As well, I graded the pattern from a larger waist size to a smaller hip/leg size. I am really glad I did that, because while these fit really well at the waist, there is still some room to take out at the hip (one more size) – which would give it a smaller leg profile. Because pants are supposed to fall direct from the hip, you can’t really grade down to less than the hip width.
Though it’s hard to tell in that selfie – the heavier twill gives these a structured look – which I really love. These have enough polish that I can wear them when I go into the office in Vancouver, but they are almost as comfy as pj bottoms. For my next pair I plan to use some dark red linen which will not have the same structure, but will be a perfect spring/summer wear.
My favourite feature of these pants though? It’s this bit of selvedge showing on the right hand pocket: